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Minn. 12,000 jobs richer due to stimulus

ST. PAUL -- The federal stimulus has provided paychecks this year for nearly 12,000 jobs in Minnesota schools, prisons, state psychiatric institutions and construction on roads and sewer and water systems.

State finance officials reported Monday that the stimulus created or saved 11,800 jobs through the end of September. The state has spent $1.6 billion, or about a third of the $4.7 billion it stands to get from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Minnesota's unemployment rate stood at 8 percent in August, with more than 120,000 jobs lost this year.

The White House predicted in February that the stimulus would create or save 66,000 Minnesota jobs. Based on the rate of jobs created so far, the total is likely to be closer to 35,000. But state stimulus coordinator Michelle Weber said the numbers aren't comparable because the federal calculation included jobs linked indirectly to the stimulus, while the state tallied only jobs paid with the money.

Also, most of the stimulus money spent so far in Minnesota -- about $1.3 billion -- went to two areas here employment is not tracked: federal medical assistance and unemployment benefits, said Tom Hanson, the state's management and budget commissioner and top stimulus official. All the jobs came from about $231 million, Hanson said.

The stimulus had the biggest impact on the state's education system, followed by human services and correctional programs.

Stimulus money paid for nearly 6,000 jobs in public schools and state colleges and universities, including teachers, social workers, administrators, counselors and school nurses.

The money also covered more than 1,200 full-time jobs at state mental health facilities, the Minnesota Sex Offender Program, county jails, a privately run prison and related programs. The positions included physicians, nurses, psychologists, social workers, prison guards and support staff.

Almost 900 jobs were also created or preserved in transportation.

State agencies receiving stimulus money were required to report spending and job numbers through Sept. 30 to federal agencies on Saturday. They submitted more than 200 reports. The next update is due in January.